Apple; Right Shoe; Dog

The soft hush escaped his lips as he kneeled before the pet. “Come now,” he whispered, “’tis the middle of the night. There is no need for such noise.” The dog whimpered, nose nuzzled between weathered paws. His ears lay flat against his head, muffling the gentle snores bumbling down the stairs. “That’s a good boy.” From behind his back, the man withdrew a single apple, stolen from the fruit basket that rested upon the kitchen surface. The fruit rolled from his fingertips, landing just before the dog’s muzzle. Cautiously nibbling the stem, the dog tested the apple from the strange man. Finding no faults, he carefully gorged on the fruit, ears standing as he consumed his prize.

Please with the bargaining, the man rose to his feet. A smile played on his lips. Quietly he turned away, following the trail of clothes littering the staircase; a pathway leading to the bedroom. As he ascended the shadows slipped to reveal slivers of bare skin, only an ill-fitting pair of shorts providing cover.

He took careful mental notes of the articles he passed: a sleek black dress, laddered tights, a lone right shoe. The trail ended with a pair of black, lace briefs, carelessly dropped before the bedroom door.

With a gentle push, the door crept open. The room revealed was rather barren, a double bed and a chest of drawers its only inhabitants. In the spaces between a soft, red carpet peeked through.

A breathy groan drifted from the form wrapped within the folds of the duvet, a restless figure writhing in the sheets. He settled at the edge of the bed besides the figure, running a cool fingertip across her tender wrists. A bruise blossomed from beneath the handcuffs that restrained her to the bed. A relieved exhalation escaped from the woman at the contact. She nestled back into the covers, a subtle smile slipping onto her face.

In one gentle motion, he swept back the hair that had fallen over her face. Her eyes clenched tight, face static before opening her eyes. With a sudden sharpness, she scuttled back towards the headboard, hissing as the metal cut into her already red wrists. “No, please…” she wept, hand rubbing her bruise in a repetitive motion. At his smile, she reached a hand towards the dome of her head, wincing at the touch.

Blood heavily clotted around the roots of her hair, tearing the strands from their base as she removed the hand. A sticky scarlet residue coated the fingers she had used to investigate. Turning back to her captor, her eyes fell upon his open palm which lay just before her. Rested in his hand, two white pills.

“No,” she whispered once more, “not again…” He smiled.

“You know the rules.”

Their eyes met, his watching her intently. An awaited acceptance washed over her face, gaze falling upon the red stained bat that rested against the bed.

Reaching out an open hand, her eyes locked onto his as he tipped the pills into her palm. She swallowed the pills dry, no water offered, ignoring the burn as they dissolved in her throat. Clenching her eyes shut, she fell back into the pillows. She didn’t want to watch as the world dissolved before her eyes, swirling into an unintelligible mess of colour and sound. Her ear filled with the buzz of white noise as the pills reached her stomach, the last sensation she knowingly acknowledged the heavy palm that fell upon her thigh, and the words that he uttered.

“That’s a good girl.”

Hunting; Snow

The soft swirl of snowfall fell before his eyes, distorting the landscape ahead of him. Each step left its mark; an indent quickly masked by the fall that threatened to blind him. Lulls in the wind gave view to the red trail that dripped between the trees, the snow transforming the rouge drops into small crystalline structures. It was injured. That was for certain.

Forearm as shield, he swept the pine branches aside, the thick of his jacket protecting his already wind-bitten skin. Pause. Tension built in the branch as it was held, sending a ripple through the leaves. The tree ahead trembled. Slowly, he released the branch, allowing it to slide soundlessly back into position.

His foot rolled through the snow, an attempt to mute the sound of his steps. Pause. The tree trembled once more. One more step placed him before another ruby of snow. He crouched down, finger running across its surface. He removed his finger to reveal a streak of sticky red. A fresh mark.

In one smooth movement, he pulled the weight across his shoulder; the palm of his left hand moulding to the barrel of the gun, the right hand balanced around the stock. Index finger trained over the trigger, he took aim.

The quiver of branches marked its fall. A soft grunt disturbed the quiet of the forest, a strained silence falling in its wake. Lowering the barrel to the floor, he stepped towards the sound’s origin. He brushed the branches aside, vision no longer obscured by snow nor trees.

Using the snow as leverage, his prey attempted to claw itself away. The soft shush of its body dragging through the snow met his ears. At the sound of his footsteps, it turned; the white of its eyes blood-shed and fearful. A red stream trickled over its bare skin, oozing from the entry wound just below its shoulder. Its eyes searched through the trees, before meeting with his own. He watched as its desperation grew.

“Please?” she whispered. “Please…” She stared intently at her captor, tears escaping from her eyes before her gaze fell to the floor.

He smiled steadily, raising the barrel of his gun. With one squeeze, her head was snapped backwards by the force of the bullet, torso dragged to the floor by the weight. The subsequent blood seeped from the new entry wound, staining the white of her skin a deep red.

Slinging the shotgun back over his shoulder, he plucked a silk handkerchief from his breast pocket and stooped down momentarily, swabbing the splatter from his boots. Taking his exit, he allowed the soiled handkerchief to fall from his fingers. He produced a phone from within his jacket, placing it against his ear. “Another successful hunt,” he chuffed. The bluing skin of the girl’s body was no longer visible as he laughed down the phone.

The snowfall picked up again as the distance between the two grew; a desolate tomb of snow forming around her body as he made his escape. His voice rode along the winter breeze, barely a whisper by the time it reached the body. The soft chuckle rolling over her grave as he continued to speak down the phone.

“Release the next one.”